Thursday, March 31, 2011

150 years: Emancipation

Quilt/quilting/quilter enthusiast that I am, I was happy to find this blog in Blog World (I assume there is such a thing?) and am happy to share it with others, even you non-quilters. Because it has history and photographs and interesting things that we all should know and learn and pass on:

Civil War Quilts

The writer gives a weekly post regarding the Civil War; she ties it into a weekly quilt block. And if I am industrious, I can jump in and knock off a few blocks each week. (And my wedded nieces would be oh-so-tickled, since they are waiting...some of them on their 3rd anniversaries... for my promised Wedding Quilt gifts.

Oh, dear.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Animal Planet

Outside this morning, I heard some amazing bird songs, so I ventured around the yard till I saw the owner to the voice: a big ol' crow. About the same time that I saw him, so did Beau the Bloodhound. Well, that ol' crow went and flew clear up and landed on the tippy-top of our tallest tree:

Beau was fascinated. I think he thought he was responsible for treeing this very large and very vocal bird. So Ol' Crow kept crowing, Ol' Beau joined in with baying, and circled and circled that tallest tree. Biserka the Bouvier, who has led a very sheltered life from what we can discern, (puppy mill?), got interested in the broo-haha at some point, and started circling the tallest tree too. Maybe she thought the bird would fall down or throw food or something. But she kept eyeing Ol' Crow while Beau kept up his bay.

When he's not running or baying, he is chewing...
Isn't he a handsome gentleman?
Back on the south forty (yards, not acres), the ponies had once again managed to slip through their electric fence bonds. What an equine saga. I have been trying to keep them penned up by the barn for the next month or so, in order to get the grass established in the rest of the pasture. Our very kind neighbor volunteers his time and equipment each year to fertilize our tiny plot of land, and he has in years past very kindly put forth his opinion that we should keep the ponies off the grass till June to let it establish. In that his is a successful farm and ranching operation, I suspect he know of which he speaks.

So! Last week while daughters were visiting home, I ushered them out to the pasture to pound t-posts into the ground and set up electric tape. (Two years ago College Boy Graham did it. This year, it was the girls' turn. {Last year? Oops, noone did it. Bad animal husbandry...})

The first few days, just the sight of the tape kept the ponies in their enclosure. (By the way, I refer to these two animals as diminutive ponies, but they are huge horses, approximately 1500 lbs each.) Then one day Turbo the Cowboy Horse figured out that it was not hot, and he started escaping under the tape. So after a few escapes and re-captures, I turned the hotwire on.

Boy, they did not like that.
Not one bit.

But in the wind and fog and mist last night, TWICE, the electric tape came down. Sufficient evidence that our daughters should not go into the ranch fencing biz anytime soon.

This morning I recaptured both ponies off the lush green inch of new grass, and repaired said posts and fence and electricity.

This afternoon, I looked out and noticed that poor ponies were so sad/traumatized about electric fencing, they had not moved and had not eaten any hay or gone to the water tank all day. Not only is that sad, but a health issue in the pony GI tract. So I turned off the fencing, took their evening feed over to the hay bale, which they were afraid to stand by...because they are not too bright?... and I fed them there.

Now looking out, they are haying and happy horses. I will turn the fence back on after dark when they are up by their barn.

Animals. Unggghh.....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Study Time

Today I studied South America:

South America

I got 34 out of 39. How was your score?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ah! Springtime!

In the spring,
I have counted one hundred and thirty-six
different kinds of weather
inside of four and twenty hours.
~Mark Twain

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Night

What a fun ending to our week. We planned to go out and celebrate Grad Student Gillian's birthday with Japanese, which we did. There was a teeny-tiny glitch to the start of our evening, though.

The norm in our family's schedule is that that Spouse o' Mine is ready and waiting for any event perhaps 3.75 minutes before I am set to go out the door. That has been a given for the past umpteen years. Today, however, there was some overtime basketball game to decide what team goes to the Final Four, and contrary to my previous post that I would be following the brackets, I have not. So I don't give a hoot WHO is in the final four. Unless it is my alma mater. But I don't even know where they are in this madness.

So...I was ready and sitting in the chair by the door with my coat in arm, and we were going nowhere at 6:00 p.m. Add to that, that Spouse o' Mine had not taken a shower yet (at this point I was thinking, Forego the shower and let's get going!). College Grad Claire said that she and Gillian would be taking a separate car so that they could meet friends later, and that was fine with us. Finally, Butler beat whomever and that Spouse o' Mine was out the door in a flash. Because we had planned to have Gillian's birthday dinner at the Japanese restaurant at 6:30 pm, for Pete's sake!

I opened our front gate and jumped in the car, and off that Spouse o' Mine and I went! We assumed the daughters would be in close pursuit.

Uh oh.

Nobody knew that Birthday Girl Gillian was fast asleep upstairs. Fast, fast asleep. So gone was she, that when Claire screamed up to her that it was time to go, Gillian awoke and thought it was morning! Morning! Panic! Where were she and Claire going in the morning?!

Well. They arrived at the restaurant not too long after us, but the poor Birthday Girl looked a little askance the first few minutes after they joined us.

We had a delightful meal.

When we got home, I adjourned to the old living room to practice cello. Practicing cello in the presence of that Spouse o' Mine is not a big deal. After all, he practices guitar in front of me. I have to say, though, that practicing cello in front of any of my kids is inhibiting. They have all played their respective string instrument from 5th grade on up to 12th grade. And have played with full orchestras. With guest musicians from all over. And I have not.

So, I am still working on Mozart's Ave Verum. Inbetween "sets " this evening, I pulled out other songs that I have played or want to start on. One in particular that I would like to start on is a very favorite of mine: Handel's Largo. It's a really SLoooow piece. I love it. I loved it back when Grad Student Gillian was in ? 9th ? grade and I thought she should play it on her violin for contests that year.

Ok, Ok. Tonight was a mea culpa night between mother and daughter. I LOVE the Largo. She hated it. And I had to admit to her tonight, that the Largo IS a tremendously difficult piece, and especially that it is played in largo. And that my playing it on cello, in particularly bad musicianship, is even easier than her playing it on violin. And I told my daughter, the Birthday Girl, that this was one of those (many) times when Mom realizes that: yes, Mom was wrong; Kid was right: Handel's Largo was not appropriate back in her childhood.

Wow. I hope that this will never show up on any Momily website.

How could it? Grown kid and Mom and violin and cello issues and parents leaving for Japanese birthday dinner while Birthday Girl is fast asleep upstairs...

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Weekend

This week was "Daughters' Visits" at our house: Gillian came home from KU grad school, and Claire came home from Virginia. They spent a huge amount of hours cleaning This Old House and helping me with my Lenten project. Grazi, daughters.

Tonight we were expecting 5-6 collegiate cyclists to arrive on our doorstep, but yesterday evening we got an email stating that the collegiate races had been canceled.

That's a BIG BOO. A) Collegiate homestays are always so fun for us. We love them - and have been doing them in some way, shape and form for 20+ years. B) I had gone grocery shopping for the weekend athletes, purchasing odds and ends which denote a high-carb diet for racing cyclists: pancake mix, pasta, pasta, pasta, grits, and lots of bananas.

So. Well. That Spouse o' Mine and the daughters and I had our own tiny little pasta party this evening. Maybe someone will make pancakes in the morning. Bananas? Smoothies and bread coming our way...

Tonight that Spouse o' Mine and I took a quick bike ride. 40º and windy, windy. It was remindful of those skiing days where the sub-freezing winds will freeze-dry our eyes, and numb our cheeks. Our smiles will be stuck in smile-mode for the day.

Tonight we are having chocolate chip cookies. Two days ago, it was pound cake. Tomorrow, we are having lemon cupcakes topped with fresh berries: the request of the Birthday Girl, Miss Gillian Louise.

Amazing! 24 years ago, I gave birth to a healthy 9 lb 13 oz bouncing baby girl. She was and is beautiful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chaumes: stubble

The Hundred Years' War in France was a series of wars between the French and English in the 14th and 15th centuries. The French Périgord is also the land of 1001 medieval and Renaissance castles, and the site of Roman ruins, and even prehistoric ruins dating back some 40,000 years. That's REALLY old history. Can you imagine living in such a place? How fun would that be, on a weekend basis?!

The Hundred Years' War was divided into phases: the Edwardian War, the Caroline War, the Lancastrian War, the period of Jean d'Arc, the Breton War of Succession, the Castilian War, the War of Two Peters, and the Crisis of 1383-85. That's a whole lot of dissension. The United States of America has its periodic dissensions, and yes, we have experienced the Civil War, but I don't know that we have experienced any internal strife the likes of the Hundred Years' War. I hope we never do.

Nowadays, the Périgord region of France which is noted for its cuisine, most notably its geese, ducks, foie gras, and truffles.

So where am I going with this?

I went marketing today, (as my late Aunt Alpha would preface), and what should I come upon but Chaumes cheese from the Périgord region of France! And I have to tell you, this cheese is great! Maybe a little pricier than the standard Kraft American (boo! cheese?!! I think not) but most certainly a fun and worthwhile venture into cheesedom. We all gave it a thumbs-up.

For you who don't trust me:

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Hourglass

There is nothing finer than a day spent in Kansas City with the daughters.

We laughed, we shopped, we dined, we shopped some more. We gossiped. We discussed and argued and reminisced and shopped some more.

I had flashbacks at several points in our afternoon. Funny, bittersweet, where-did-the-time-go flashbacks.

When I was their age, my Mom, my sister and I would make seasonal dates to Tulsa, Oklahoma to laugh, shop, dine, shop, gossip, discuss, argue, reminisce, and shop some more. Oh, the FUN we had! I miss those trips tremendously. I recall all the great times I had with my sister. I enjoy all the great times I share with my brothers. (Although they're not the shopping, gossiping, dining types...) I love that Mom and I still laugh, and dine, and we might gossip (but she will deny that, right there).

Today was one of those fun family days we cherish. I was amazed that I looked back in time today, to see the earlier chapter of this book.

Where did that chapter go? How did I come to this chapter?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oh Mr. Moon...

Early, early this morning, my eyes opened, and I thought I saw the moment before the crack of dawn. I got up and wandered to the window to watch it: the crack of dawn. didn't crack. I walked into the other room and turned on the light to look at my watch: 3:40 am.


Full moon, it was. This happens to me on occasion, early bird that I am. Last night's full moon was purported to be a super moon: brighter than ever. Well, I can't speak to that, because, while it did seem pretty bright, so have many moons over the years - especially my favorite: full moons over snow. Now, those are fun! I have gone outside to enjoy a snowy full moon. It's like daytime in the middle of the night - shadows and all!

Here's a moon report from one of my favorite poets, Samuel Coleridge:
The Moon, how definite its orb!
The Moon, how definite its orb!
Yet gaze again, and with a steady gaze--
'Tis there indeed,--but where is it not?--
It is suffused o'er all the sapphire Heaven,
Trees, herbage, snake-like stream, unwrinkled Lake,
Whose very murmur does of it partake
And low and close the broad smooth mountain
Is more a thing of Heaven than when
Distinct by one dim shade and yet undivided from the universal cloud
In which it towers, finite in height.

It is said by really down-to-earth gardeners that one should not plant during the full moon, at least the first day of the full moon. I am going to adhere to this premise this year. More for fun than anything else, but who knows? These "old wives' tales" more often than not hold some credibility. And besides, even though I have my seed pots and soil and "conservatory" (more on that later) ready to roll, I spent the better half of this afternoon Bloodhound-proofing my vegetable garden. There is nothing like 4' hogwire and a bloodhound to really make one feel like a hillbilly.

Tomorrow morning I am driving to Kansas City to have lunch and shopping with my daughters. How fun! It's always fun to be with them, but nowdays, our lunches and shopping have turned to a new facet in my Mom-life. The girls are totally adults, I am totally middle-aged, and it seems like we three are on a more-even keel with life. Well - at least moreso than when they were in high school or even college. Now I have to attempt to bide by my unspoken rule not to give them my opinion every moment of their lives. Some days it happens, some days it is a fail...

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Madness

I like sports and athletics. Some sports, more than others. That Spouse o' Mine does not enjoy my sitting in on an afternoon of football viewing with him - too many questions, he says. And too many sounds effects (mine) after a tough tackle. And I can't sit through endless channel changes during commercials. Come to think of it, I can't sit through endless strings of commercials, either.

I never enjoyed baseball until our baby boy started playing. He started "late in the game" by most pee wee league standards - I think he was in late grade school, 5th or 6th, before we let him play. By then, most mothers in the bleachers knew ALL the rules and ALL the competitive moves and ALL the cheering words that one uses while watching baseball. I knew nothing, and so my time (inbetween moments when my kid was up to bat) was spent musing things like why did some of the boys wear solid red socks and some of them wear red stripes? How did they come up with the name short stop? How often does the pitcher get beaned by a hit? (My guess is...once? After that, he hones his reflexes and reaction time tremendously.) Anyway, I grew to enjoy those baseball evenings, even though my head was never "in the game".

Now, speed sports: I love them! Downhill skiing, horse races, track & cross country: there is NOTHING finer than spending an afternoon watching the competition. Heck, I can even do a whole day of speed sports and come out a happy camper in the end. Next weekend we are playing host to collegiate cycling here at K-State, and once again we are housing some of the out-of-state cyclists who are competing over the weekend. It's a fun weekend spent with fun athletes.

And here we are in March Madness. I enjoy basketball. I don't usually sit through an entire game, but I like it. I rarely follow the NCAA tournaments, but this spring, I have downloaded the tourney bracket. I am going to put it on our refrigerator. I am going to follow March Madness and I am going to enjoy it. So there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What a Day

This activity took up a goodly amount
of my time and attention today.
But the pup's been apprehended,
and is now fast asleep on our back porch.
It is said that bloodhounds are a high-energy breed
who tend to follow their noses in their meandering.
I would concur.
I met more "neighbors" in Wabaunsee County today
than I have in the ten years we have lived here.

I even had two truck drivers stop by our house
and give me sighting reports on this pup.
(I am keeping the LOST signs in storage...)

The "up" note in my day was visiting
the visiting Tibetan Monks at K-State.

Monk Parade:

Grad student Gillian has five Tibetan monks
in her ESL class this semester.
She says that they are very nice and funny, too.

Well. I am glad that this day is coming to an end,
and a happy ending with it.

But wait!
In all the canine hullabaloo news I was relating in this post,
I neglected to tranquilly describe
the scads of robins out in our pasture this morning.
(Yes!! When I was frantically calling
and whistling for BEAU!! BEAU!! BEAU!!)

I have to tell you,
the migratory robins migrated
right into Wabaunsee County last night,
and their chatter in the trees was nearly deafening
when I was hiking the creek for You-Know-Who.

I am not sure I have ever scene such a flock before...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hello, Beau

This is Beau.

He has come to live with us.
His tongue lolls outside of his mouth
more often than not.

He is a scent hound.
That means that he runs around with his nose to the ground.

A lot.

But not always.
Beau spends a good amount of time
looking at the birds in the sky, too.

He has big feet.
All the better to support his 120 pounds.

So now Biserka has someone with which to frolic.
Hello, Beau.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day is Done

This morning I awoke to the bright, beautiful morning sun shining in our east window. Good grief, I thought to myself, I am going to have to start shutting the drapes at bedtime if that thing is going to be waking me up every morning... I got up and shuffled into the kitchen for my coffee, turned on the BBC World News, and, as my aforementioned post stated, settled in to the cricket scores between Belgium and Birmingham. And others. Not our typical Saturday morning, but a fun way to start out an interesting day.

I took a run later in the morning. Hmmm...make that: 3 runs. I left our gate telling that Spouse o' Mine, "Make sure Biserka (the Bouvier) stays in the yard." Off I went, down the road. Past some calves, across the bridge, partway past the cornfield...and then, I heard something come up behind me. Biserka, the Bouvier. Trotting down the middle of the highway.

Sigh. She can't go with me because she doesn't know enough "running" words like the World's Best Dog, Bear, did. "Get up." (go up the curb) "Come down." (get in the street) "Move over." (move over) 'S'go. (go faster) "Here." (stop) Biserka only knows "Pasture! (!!Let's go to the pasture!!!) and "Go upstairs!" (!!Go up the stairs!!) And those two phrases have to be said sing-songy with a smile on your face or else she thinks she is in trouble and will run the opposite direction. Note: That Spouse o' Mine does not have a sing-songy voice in his repertoire, so it's a safe bet to say Biserka rarely minds him.

OK -back to running. I ran back home, me on the shoulder of the highway, and Biserka running down the middle of it. Such a nice thing to have no traffic on Saturday mornings. I let Biserka in the house with a happy "Go upstairs!! (which she happily did), and went back out to restart my jaunt. I ran past the calves, and, lookie there, our cat Euripides was sitting on the side of the highway, waiting for me. Sigh. I scooped him up, WALKED back to the house, and tossed him inside.

Morning Run: Take Three. I ran past some calves, and before I crossed the bridge, I spied something really weird on the side of the road: a deer a ziplock bag. What is that all about?! I kept running, across the bridge, past the cornfield, around the curves, and back home again. Jiggety-jig. On with the day, I thought to myself.

Biserka the Bouvier is shedding, so next on my Saturday agenda (which was planned in order of cleanliness-to-dirtiest jobs) was grooming the Bouvier. Ick. But I checked that one off my list.

Next job, even ickier, was for that Spouse o' Mine and I to take our little red wagon and a bunch of trash bags and commence picking up all the litter on the sides of our roads. It's a very unpleasant job. Local bumpkin yahoos think it's fine to throw bottles, cans, fast food trash, and the occasional deer tail into the drainage ditches along their way.

We got done with the highway part of our property, and moved on to the county road. I was a smidgeon ahead of that Spouse o' Mine (we were on either side of the road), when I kicked something black, down in the grass. It looked like a scraper for a painter or something.

But then, I touched it w/ my shoe, and ascertained that it was...

A machete!!

And it had red liquid all over the blade!!!

And I screamed!!!!

I was quite sure I had uncovered a murder weapon.

That Spouse o' Mine came over to my side of the road (he is so ding-dong calm, even when I am screaming about a murder weapon.) and he kicked it a few times.


"It's a toy."


We finished that task, and moved on to others, still in some order of clean-to-dirtier: burning a little brush, cleaning out the duck house (that was not very pleasant), and finally, the task to end our day: remove the septic cap and see why the drain is so slow to drain. You know, septics are positively archaic, and this task is a REAL BIG ICK on the list, but Shitty Smitty showed me how to do it the last time he came out (that's our septic guy and yes, that is his name, and yes, he has it painted on his truck, so there), so that I would not have to pay him to make a return visit any time soon. Shitty is funny, but maybe not a real good business man.

And here it is, nearly dusk, and we're cleaned up and prepping some lamb chops for the grill.

What a Saturday.

Saturday Morning

I suspect that we are the only couple in Kansas
(and maybe the whole Midwest)
who is enjoying their Saturday morning coffee
while listening to cricket matches on the radio.

I'm happy it's not lawn bowls...

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Favorite

I have always enjoyed paintings by Norman Rockwell.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Big Red One - Danger Forward

Down the way from us lives the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley. The Big Red One troops are currently deployed to Iraq, and those who are not being deployed or re-deployed (that means going and returning in civilian lingo) are busy on base with details, details, details, and training.

This evening, just as the sun set, our house shook. This is to say: the floor vibrated, the windows shook, and that Spouse o' Mine and I looked at each other curiously. Less than sixty seconds later, another shock, same intensity as the first. That Spouse o' Mine asked, "Is that Fort Riley?" I assumed it was, and checked their Noise/Training Advisory website. "The training scheduled for this period is not expected to produce any significant noise impact for the area."

And *BOOM*! A third shock. We went outside to wait for a fourth. Maybe it was an earthquake? (The epicenter of Kansas' largest earthquake, Magnitude 5.1, was just a couple of miles down the road from us the "other way" from Ft. Riley, in 1867. never knows...)

Well. There was no fourth.

Every time we experience sensations from Fort Riley's artillery practices, (I call them Bombing Days), I pause a moment to think about the human beings, families with kids, who actually experience the real deal. I am thankful we live in relative safety here in ol' rural Kansas...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Back in the 1700s a man named Anton Stoll was buddies with two other men: Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Anton was a music coordinator for an Austrian town called Bad bei Wien ("Bath near Vienna"). Herr Mozart wrote an Ave Verum Corpus for Herr Stoll. Or maybe I could be presumptuous enough to say Amadeus wrote a eucharistic hymn for Anton. Or simpler yet, how about Amad wrote a song for Anton? Interestingly, this piece was written about six months before Mozart's death. Nowadays, Mozart's Ave Verum is a well-known piece performed by choirs and orchestras around the world.

Today was cello day for me! I am past the 1.5 year mark. Why, I should be up there in the ranks of Jacquelin du Prè, Rostropovich, Jean Jeanrenaud, ...and of course - my hero, Yo Yo Ma, just any day now!

What is my assignment for the week? Kind of an easy week - most lessons come with a 2-song, 1-etude, and one-scale assignment. This week I have only one song: Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus in D major. It should sound like this:

(It's nice that I am up there in the cello ranks with some middle school cellist somewhere in the musical realm...)

On the Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday note:

Cajun Gumbo is going on in this household.

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

(Let the good times roll!)

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